Almost exactly a year ago, Beijing played host to a dream day of international sports: both Neymar and Kobe were in town with their respective teams, and the Tour of Beijing was wrapping up in glorious sunshine. This year…not so much.
Remember a year ago when the smog in Beijing was so bad that Rafael Nadal nearly pulled out of the China Open tennis final, while golfers in the inaugural LPGA Reignwood Classic wore masks while they played?
This year during the National Week holiday the weather was generally kinder, though the weather did not go unnoticed. Check out these comments made by world number one Novak Djokovic:
Pac-Man, Zou Shiming have early start in Macau
Manny Pacquiao takes on Brandon Rios in Macau at around lunchtime on Sunday China time (to ensure a prime-time Saturday evening audience in the US). There was lots of talk from the Manny camp about how this one is for the Philippines given the recent typhoon, but that will all be forgotten when the bell goes. There was also a predictably entertaining build-up with trainers from each side getting into it in the gym – in other words, typical pre-bout stuff.
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said he expects around 200 million homes in China to tune in to see the main event, which, as usual, is way, way beyond the realms of reality. Continue reading Weekly Wrap: Beckham, Pacquiao, Liverpool, Asian Cup & ATP
The China Open tennis has long been in the books: the 10th anniversary of the tournament saw a dream men’s final between the top two seeds, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, in which Djokovic won, but Nadal regained the world number 1 ranking. But as the best male players in the world face off in London at the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals, it has emerged that this dream final came within a whisker of not happening at all. The reason? The pollution was so bad that Rafa Nadal almost refused to walk out on court.
It should have been a triumphant weekend of sports for Beijing: China’s female golfing star, Feng Shanshan, took the inaugural Reignwood LPGA Classic by a single shot thanks to an eagle on the very last hole, the dream men’s final in the China Open tennis tournament saw no. 1 seed Novak Djokovic beat no. 2 seed Rafael Nadal, while on the women’s side Serena Williams won the tenth title of what is arguably the best year of her career.
But instead, everyone was talking about the weather.
While it will likely have none of the animosity of that famous showdown between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs (which, incidentally, was 40 years ago this week), Beijing will stage its own Battle of the Sexes on Friday September 27 when women’s world no. 5 Li Na will play men’s world no. 1 Novak Djokovic at the National Tennis Center in northern Beijing to mark the 10th anniversary of the China Open.